Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Forced Migrations and Refugees in the Mediterranean Basin and the MENA Region

The book presents itself as an original and elegant response to the greatest “moral dilemma” characterizing the current century. This dilemma concerns the erosion of the living conditions of the human being, who – for several reasons – is forced to seek new life possibilities. The work presents a critical analysis of the legal, political and moral status of a “refugee” and also provides a solid epistemological context that sheds light on the increasingly heated conflict between ideologies, rights and interests. The style of the topic and the methodological approach confer an extraordinary ethical slant, where the moral dilemma mentioned above acquires different interpretative nuances.”
Marco Ettore Grasso, PhD

“The book addresses forced migration from multiple, contemporary perspectives, bringing new food for thought for all those involved with or interest in refugee and migration law, as well as human rights more generally.”
Irini Papanicolopulu, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

“A brilliant work that addresses the issue of migrants and their fundamental rights through the lens of past colonization and current imperialism, in a context aggravated by a world pandemic.”
Professor Alessandra Cordiano, Associata di Diritto privato, Università degli studi di Verona Italia, Italy

Arts Therapy in a Changing World: Creative Interdisciplinary Concepts and Methods for Group and Individual Development

“This is a pioneering book which enables us to safely cross several borders. Berger brings together a strong body of knowledge in the field of performance in dramatherapy and integrates nature therapy with a series of working models. It is important that we can take the bigger view of arts therapies through his lens, and not scramble around in a microscopic corner of protective territory. I warmly recommend this book for all therapists and educationalists.”
Professor Sue Jennings
Innovator of Neuro-Dramatic-Play, Dramatherapy Pioneer
Senior Research Fellow, University of Birmingham, England

Arts Therapy in a Changing World: Creative Interdisciplinary Concepts and Methods for Group and Individual Development makes a significant contribution to the arts as therapy model and materializes its rich potential. It presents novel and interdisciplinary approaches for group work intertwined with the arts including arts-based work in nature, arts-based supervision, performance-based therapy and virtual art based therapy.”
Professor Alexander Kopytin
Psychology Department
St. Petersburg Academy of Post-Graduate Pedagogical Education, Chair, Russian Art Therapy Association, Russia

See No Evil: Secularity versus Sacred Scriptures

“The topic of the book is of great importance, yet there is no comprehensive book of this nature now available for use in classrooms or for the general reader. The influence of secularization has grown dramatically and there are now many criticisms of religion from a secular perspective but there are very few, if any, responses from a responsible religious perspective. Yet there are billions of people who are adherents of the major religious traditions in our world. Professor Leightner’s book fills this gap very well. Even people fully committed to the practice of secular thinking and analysis will benefit greatly from Professor Leightner’s insights into the deepest meaning of their own traditions of thought. Professor Leightner’s book will be a major contribution to modern insight.”
Daniel Quinn Mills
Professor Emeritus, Harvard University School of Business Administration, USA

“Leightner argues that secular culture has mislead economists and society more broadly into conflating counterfeit values (evil) with the wisdom found in Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Hindu and Theravada sacred texts, causing severe personal and social harm. Those like Pol Pot (responsible for the Khmer Rouge’s crimes against humanity) persuade themselves and many others that their actions are virtuously motivated, when they are intrinsically evil. People need to step back and appreciate that evil may be contaminating their ethics. This is a message that many professionals do not want to hear, but needs a fair hearing.”
Steven Rosefielde
Professor of Economics at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Genocide and Geopolitics of the Rohingya Crisis

“In his book, Genocide and Geopolitics of the Rohingya Crisis, the scholar General Aminul Karim uncovers the broader canvas of the topic, painstakingly consulting the plethora of existing literature, interviewing various experts, and offering his own analysis and conclusions. General Karim begins with a background of the Rohingyas in Arakan and of modern Burma including its various insurgencies. He then moves on to the strategic importance of the area. Being resource rich, the oil and gas fields are controlled by an enterprise, in which the senior military officers who run the country have economic interests. Major world powers and big corporations have their eyes on these resources. Added to this is the location along the Bay of Bengal, which is vital for Chinese access to the Indian Ocean. Removing Rohingyas strengthens the control of these forces on the area and consequently, upon the resources. Examining the legal issues in subsequent chapters, the author concludes that the Myanmar regime is certainly guilty of committing genocide, but because Myanmar is not a member of ICC and because implementation of the ICJ decision depends largely on the UNSC, punishment of the perpetrators cannot be guaranteed. Chapters 11 and 12 enter into the main theme of the book—geopolitics, and the possibility of a local Muslim insurgency…In his concluding chapters, through interviews, the author suggests some solutions. Sadiqul Islam of Laurentian University, Canada, considers the expulsion of the Rohingyas into Bangladesh an act of war. Professor Delwar Hossain of Dhaka University thinks even a limited war on this issue is quite unlikely. This reviewer has looked into history, and seen that no such problem involving a crime of genocide has been resolved peacefully. The issue is likely to be prolonged and in such a case, the growth of an insurgency and recruitment of young zealots by international terror groups is a distinct possibility. To resolve the problem, General Karim suggests that great powers like China, Russia, the US, and the UN and other international organizations work together to ensure citizenship for Rohingyas and their repatriation, and federalism and autonomy in Myanmar. Alas, the Myanmar state looks unlikely to proceed this way; nor are the great powers showing any such inclination. The author agrees that this sounds like tall-talks, but he would still like to be optimistic. Unfortunately, going by the proceedings so far, there seems little space for such optimism. All said and done, this book is unique in as much as it has the intellectual dimension of an academic. It also reflects the strategic perspective of a professional who has had a decades-old career in military and security matters. A remarkable work, this book would be useful both for researchers as well as policymakers who can devise strategies to handle the issue in the years to come…READ MORE
Reviewed by Md Touhid Hossain, Former Foreign Secretary, published in The Daily Star (December 24, 2020)

The Homo within the Sapiens

The Homo within the Sapiens is a very unique book written by Jorge A. Colombo, MD, PhD. The scope of the book is fascinating because in just 107 pages, Dr. Colombo covers the development and evolution of mankind from its early start until the present digital era. The book is very well documented and includes many bibliographic citations. I definitely recommend reading this book.”
Enrique De Argaez, P.E., MBA
Editor of
Editor, Miniwatts Marketing Group, Internet Marketing Research

“This is another fascinating book by Jorge Colombo, who is one of a rare breed of neuroscientists that takes an interest in the brain not only from a purely biological perspective, but also approaching the origins of human nature from different angles such as the humanities and social sciences. Without a doubt, this is an intriguing combination since it makes us reflect philosophically and scientifically on who we are, where we are going, how we have created this world with its many inequalities, what challenges await us in the future and many other important issues regarding humankind in the context of the present society. I would highly recommend this book.
Javier DeFelipe
Instituto Cajal (CSIC), Madrid
Laboratorio Cajal de Circuitos Corticales
Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Paradigms of Freedom

“This is an exciting book. It makes the reader think. The author takes the reader through the modern history of Europe from early modern times to the 20th century in just five chapters. Conventionally, he commences the early modern period with the 16th century and the Age of Reformation. Each subsequent chapter takes the reader through time, century by century: Religion and the Age of Science (17th century); Justice and the Age of Enlightenment (18th century); Romanticism and Aspiration (19th century); Conflict, depression and sorrow (20th century). Chronologically there is an overlap in time with long and short centuries, but few would disagree with the author’s broad summary of each century. It is difficult to place the book within any particular genre. In his preface the author admits: ‘This not a history but a consideration of mankind’s search to be free, and how this striving is embodied in the poetry of liberation.’ This aphorism is not confined to poets. Perhaps that is why Nova has published the work in its World Philosophy series. Yet this is not a conventional philosophy book which at a scholarly level would separately consider each philosopher and ignore art. This is an insightful book worthy of reading and reflection…READ MORE
Ian Rogers
Historian and Theologian, University of London

“Letellier, in the Introduction to his major work “Paradigms of Freedom”, quotes Rousseau, ‘Man was born free, yet everywhere is in chains’. This recognition of human suffering, in all its various forms, is heightened by Christianity, the faith of Europe, which dignified mankind as being born in the image of God and on a lifetime journey to God. This dissonance seared European thought and society, and Letellier, in this monumental work, explores through European artists, philosophers, theologians and politicians, what he describes as the age of renaissance, reformation, revolution and romanticism. The Introduction ends with transcendent images of hope. From Jacob’s Ladder God comes to man to gift peace and unity, in contrast to the futility of a man-made utopia, while from ancient Greece, Pegasus points man to the transcendent vectors of wisdom, fame and poetry. In what is a monumental work, of 400 pages, Letellier produces a history of Europe that integrates historical events in the context of the arts (literature, paintings, poetry, theatre and opera), philosophy, political and religious movements, but crucially Letellier embeds it in the people involved. As the contents page indicates the scope of the work is immense and makes a concise summary almost impossible. However, his authoritative references to Sir Walter Scott, illustrate his comprehensive knowledge because he combines the covenanting history of Presbyterian Scotland, with Scott’s literary and poetic output, but then writes of the major impact Scott had on the world of opera. This is a thoroughly researched, referenced and illustrated work which is an invaluable cornucopia to academics and students, and those seeking knowledge of the arts, philosophy and history. It will be a welcome addition to any library.”
Robert Gibson
Department of Civil Engineering, The University of the West of Scotland

This book provides a comprehensive and integrated approach to European thought—politics, literature, art, opera—as they relate to the concept of freedom. Letellier frames his work around the exposition of Friedrich Schiller and Sir Walter Scott, pivotal players who bridge the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and their exploration of freedom as manifest in their art. Letellier hits his stride in chapter four, beginning with Walter Scott’s poetry and novels, confronting the tensions of nationalism and personal freedom, “a romantic allegiance to a dangerous but attractive past and the more prosaic but rational present.” Virtually all artistic endeavour, somewhere along the line, takes a turn towards tragedy, that reflects the sorrow of the human condition. From the Greek mythos to Enlightenment philosophy, from 20th century absurdism and existentialism, to pessimism at hopelessness of man’s yearning for freedom in the ‘conflict, sorrow and depression’ of the 20th century. In summary, what is freedom but the power to think and to act as an individual? To embark on that most human journey: the quest for personal distinctiveness…READ MORE
John Hartley
Theologian and Travel Writer, Maryvale Institute, Birmingham

“This fascinating selection of essays is published under Nova’s World Philosophy series. Those who know Robert Letellier’s’ huge scope of interest, and his ability to write elegant biographies, scholarly musical treatises from compilations of biblical associations through to a magnificent source book on operetta, and historical enquires, especially with Romantic themes embracing literature, music and the fine arts, will welcome this edition of his personal evaluation of the concept of freedom. The book is no conventional time travel, but an “investigation of the major gestures of freedom” and “certain decisive events” from the 16th through to the 20th century. The works of Friedrich Schiller and Sir Walter Scott feature prominently, but within the first few pages we meet the likes of St Francis, Luther, Bach, Hans Sachs and the legendary Johann Georg Faust. Shortly after several artists appear (Cranach, Dürer, Bosch and Brueghel to name a few), and thinkers such as Voltaire who laid the foundations of contests between state and church and kindled growing conflicts between the latter and the emergent empiricism of science. Letellier’s way of amalgamating times and places is seen for example in the chapter on ‘Religion and the Age of Science’. Galileo and Kepler are imbricated with the works of the composer Paul Hindemith and the playwright Berthold Brecht, with real treats such as Johann Strauss and Grimmelshausen [Grimmel who?]: he wrote one of the most significant novels the 30 years’ war Abenteuerlicher Simplicius Simplicissimus).If you want a synopsis of the political and religious history of the events leading to the English Civil war and its aftermath, or the shaded lights of women at the time, read about Margaret Cavendish Duchess of Newcastle, and Marie-Madeleine Comtesse de Lafayette. The two chapters Justice and the Age of Enlightenment (The 18th Century), and Romanticism and Aspiration (The 19th century) (the era of revolutions) are stunning accounts of those exciting times of conflict between ideals as personalities, places and politics refine every page forming the emerging bulwark of what Letellier refers to, in his last chapter, as The 20th Century: Conflict, Depression and Sorrow. Discussions about freedom so often get closed down to a few moments and places (French Revolution), a few names (music: Beethoven, Literature Byron). But the worldwide and enduring thrust for Romanticism and the longing for freedom from oppression has been global and enduring. Those who today have similar aspirations can always learn from the past, and will savour the deep insights of Letellier’s elegant and thought-provoking narrative. Nova have produced a fine book: a lively cover embraces a text which is well set out and easy to read, embellished with many relevant illustrations which is nice to hold and have nearby. ‘This is not a history but a consideration of mankind’s search to be free…’.”
Professor Michael Trimble
Emeritus Professor in Behavioural Neurology
UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
Faculty of Brain Sciences

Islamism: Global Surveys and Implications for the Future of the Arab Countries

“Using carefully collected survey data, Tausch had previously demonstrated that the official religious teachings of the Catholic Church towards the religious other do not necessarily trickle down to its most devoted members. Now he is applying similar methods to probe attitudes in Muslim societies towards a host of issues, hopefully opening a window into those societies.”
Arie Folger
Member of the Standing Committee of the European Rabbinical Conference
Member of the Rabbinical Court of Austria
Rabbi of the Bet Midrash Orchot Chajim

“This impressively researched empirical study comes at just the right time: “Islamism” asks for the development potential of the Arab countries and discusses the question of how the West should position itself. Anyone looking for answers to these crucial questions should refer to this book.
Alexander Pinwinkler
Associate Visiting Professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Vienna
Teaches at the Department of History of the University of Salzburg as well as at the Department of Economic and Social History of the University of Vienna

“Arno Tausch has few peers globally with his expertise on the Muslim world. This expertise is demonstrated in “Islamism: Global Surveys and Implications for the Future of the Arab Countries”. With the Middle East North Africa region in turmoil, now more than ever we need such expertise. This book is a veritable tour de force majestic in its scope and depth as it examines civic culture in the Arab world, anti-Semitism, Islamism and gender relations and the nexus between globalization and the environment and how this impacts the region.”
Professor Hussein Solomon
Head of Department of Political Studies and Governance
University of the Free State, South Africa

The Double Moon Drawing: An Instrument for Intervention and Research in Structurally Complex Family Situations

“I am delighted to endorse the publication of this book. The Double Moon Drawing (DMD) can be used in both clinical and research settings, facilitating the exploration and understanding of family boundaries and sense of belonging in structurally complex families. In particular, this symbolic-graphic tool allows the exploration of “absence”,  addressing how the subject deals with the loss or distancing of emotionally significant people. I have personally used the DMD, finding it a powerful and intuitive instrument, able to facilitate the participation of children and parents in the meaning-making process prompted by the clinician. Finally, the manuscript presents numerous clinical applications, which make it an invaluable resource for professionals working in the field of mental health. I strongly endorse the publication of this book, as I am confident it will make the application of the DMD more accessible and clinically sound.”
Tanya Lecchi, PhD
Anna Freud Centre
Kantor Centre of Excellence
London, England

The Double Moon Drawing: An Instrument for Intervention and Research in Structurally Complex Family Situations is, in my opinion, an innovative publication, filling a gap in the field with great benefit for clinical practice.”
Dr. Gabriella Gandino, Researcher and Family Therapist

“The ‘Double Moon’ drawing tool is a novel, clear and cogent model for understanding the applications of visual stories to (family) therapy and counselling.”
Dr. Lisa Fellin, Researcher and Family Therapist

“A real strength of the Double Moon is its accessibility. The voice of young children is often hard to obtain or is missed on many assessment methods. Through using creative methods, the perspectives and in turn voice of younger children is heard.”
Claire Harrison-Breed, Trauma Therapist

“Capturing meaning and sense that derive from conscious and unconscious dialogue, identifying some ‘complex/problematic’ family structures (children of divorced parents, foster or adoptive children, children that suffered a bereavement in the family) the DMD permits to get a precise focus on lealty/belonging conflict that follows any significant transformations of family environment.”
Giuseppe M. Festa, Specialist in Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapist

“Dr. Greco has developed the DMD, a new model of assessing families functioning theoretically well founded, easy to administer, clear in the scoring procedure. It is a highly valuable and reliable instrument both for researchers and clinical and mental health practitioners to analyze core relational dimensions of complex families.”
Camillo Regalia, Director of Families Studies and Research University Centre at Catholic University of Milan, Italy

“This book, which presents the Double Moon Drawing (DMD), is a promising work tool in clinical psychology and in psychological research. Its simplicity of use makes the DMD a brilliant instrument to get a meaningful picture of structurally complex families. I highly recommend this book to psychologists and health care professionals who like working with families and wish to do it well.”
Marco Cacioppo, Associate Professor in Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Lumsa Univesity, Rome, Italy

The Earth in Fragments: A Memoir by Michael Charles Tobias

“Michael Charles Tobias’ The Earth in Fragments: A Memoir, is a veritable history of the environmental movement, as told by one courageous, global ecologist. He is an authentic witness to the Anthropocene, which he has remarkably chronicled in many of the most provocative, telling and important initiatives and moments of this, or any generation. This book, an epic journey, is an ecological confessional in the rich vein of Jean-Paul Sartre and Aldo Leopold. Tobias has created a masterpiece of reflection that will seduce, illuminate, and challenge readers to seek at long last a true peace treaty with the planet. Many thanks to him for the massive amount of work he has accomplished; and for keeping so many candles of hope burning globally, lighting up dark times when it is all too easy to give up.”
Dr. Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Colorado, Boulder
Author of Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence; and, The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age

“What do you get when you combine restless spirit with an intellect that can only be described as breathtaking in scope and scale? That person reveals himself marvelously in these pages. Michael Tobias is a citizen of the planet. When he looks at things, it’s from the perspective of someone who can quote 17th century literature, as easily as the taxonomy of a rare plant species indigenous to the dark forest of Bialowieza; someone who has climbed many mountains, who has been an enduring hero for animal rights, who knows the nuances of the most esoteric crannies of science, who has found solace in the company of Jain ‘Ahimsa’, and has helped shape the doctrine of ‘Gross National Happiness’ in Bhutan. What comes through more than anything is Tobias’ deep well of compassion for our Earth; for all life. He has seen the impact of human overreach firsthand in every part of the planet. He is clearly pained to his core by the tide of existential challenges that more and more threaten life on Earth, and the collective human culture’s failure thus far to adequately address those unprecedented challenges. Though Tobias seems skeptical that humanity will find a way to correct course in time to avoid biospheric collapse, he does see some hope that the best empathic instincts of the theoretical individual will somehow prevail over the worse instincts of the collective human culture. Beautifully written, richly nuanced, I admire Michael Tobias the human being, and heartily recommend his memoir, The Earth in Fragments.”
Geoffrey Holland, Author, The Hydrogen Age

Sexualities, Gender and Violence: A View from the Iberian Peninsula

“The eleven essays included in Enguix and Vieira’s must-read collection offer a much needed interdisciplinary reflection on the multifarious intersections of sexuality and gender-based norms in Southern Europe with the topic of violence, providing massive food for thought both within and beyond academia.”
Ana Cristina Santos
Senior Researcher in Gender and Queer Studies
Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra

“A fascinating collection, offering an exciting and thought-provoking journey through many – new and familiar – sites of negotiation of gender and sexuality in the Iberian Peninsula. Empirically rich, theoretically challenging, and critically engaged, this book is a powerful reminder of how personal and political, how pleasurable and violent, how material and elusive, gender and sexuality can be.”
Maria do Mar Pereira
Centre for the Study of Women and Gender
University of Warwick
United Kingdom

“Begonya Enguix Grau and Cristina Pereira Vieira’s edited collection, Sexualities, Gender and Violence: A View from the Iberian Peninsula, provides an overdue and much needed survey of contemporary gender research across Spain and Portugal. This excellent collection, tackling topics such as the configuration of relationships, digital intimacies, sexual violence and harassment and sex education charts issues of concern that speak to a set of interests that animate debate across gender research at an international level. The collection is essential reading for anyone who is interested in the relations between sex, gender and violence in the contemporary moment.”
John Mercer
Professor of Gender and Sexuality
Birmingham City University
United Kingdom